Golden Ray Cutting Awaits Weather Window

Mike Schuler
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November 5, 2020

Responders install gates to the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) around the Golden Ray site with the VB10000 in place around the wreck. Photo: eorgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division photo by Tyler Jones.

The work to cut up and remove the Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound, Georgia is about to kick into high gear as crews await a weather window and deal with some last-minute issues at the site.

An update today from the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command which is overseeing the operation said they are closely monitoring the threat of severe weather associated with Tropical Storm Eta. Otherwise, they are working to identify a weather window for the cutting and lifting begin.

Meanwhile, on-site crews are working on addressing excessive chafing which was occurring in the polyethylene mooring lines used to secure the VB-10000, the heavy lift vessel that has been modified to perform the cutting and lifting operation.

“Our personnel are continuously working to solve each issue that emerges as we prepare for cutting and lifting the first section of the Golden Ray,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, “The pace of the entire removal operation will be dictated by our prudence and commitment to safety as we encounter known, unknown and unprecedented challenges as well as continue to experience weather impacts. We are grateful for the continued patience of the community.”

Responders fabricated and installed anti-chafing gear flanges around the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) and installed anti-chafing covers around the mooring lines to mitigate chafing and ensure the safety of responders. Line inspectors deemed repaired lines safe for use and responders reoriented sections of the EPB to allow for more movement of mooring lines without compromising the efficacy of the barrier.

The 150-yard safety zone around the Environmental Protection Barrier is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels.

The VB10000 arrived in St. Simons Sound last week. The vessel will us a 3-inch anchor chain to cut the wreck into eight sections that will then be lifted onto barges for transportation to a shoreside recycling facility.

The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded as it departed the Port of Brunswick more than a year ago in September 2019. All vehicles remain inside the ship’s cargo holds and will be cut along with the wreck’s hull.

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